The Springbok Sevens team is anxious to do well in Hong Kong where the sixth stage of the HSBC Sevens World Series will be held from 23 to 25 March.
South Africa have never won this prestigious event and Springbok Sevens coach, Paul Treu, is demanding a huge effort from his team at this popular three-day tournament in the Far East. Hong Kong is traditionally regarded as the most important tournament of the season and will this year be followed by the Tokyo Sevens.
In naming his confirmed 12-man squad, Treu decided against the inclusion of squad newcomer Dirk Dippenaar for the pressure cooker in the Hong Kong Stadium. The rookie is now set to make his debut next week in Japan. Renfred Dazel is the other non-playing squad member.
South Africa’s preparations for the tournament have been hampered by injuries to key players Kyle Brown, Paul Delport, Boom Prinsloo and Chris Dry, however, all were eventually cleared to play. Furthermore, the Blitzbokke travelled without the in-form Steven Hunt, who stayed behind in Cape Town to attend a family funeral.
“Our focus for these two tournaments will be on consistency, to take our opportunities and to stop the cheap tries. We are second to New Zealand when it comes to defensive statistics and we intend to keep stretching ourselves in this department.
“For us the Hong Kong tournament is always going to be special and over the past few days we’ve been talking about the fact that winning it is the one thing we’d like to achieve,” explained Treu.
The SA Sevens coach added: “The 12-team format, consisting only of core teams, will be a tough challenge and our opener against Wales will be a huge game for us. We managed a number of injuries and, as a result, our preparations for this trip were maybe less than ideal.
“New Zealand and Fiji are setting the pace and the trend at the moment and they should be main contenders in Hong Kong. Traditionally, England play well in Hong Kong and Samoa gained a lot of confidence from winning the USA title in Las Vegas,” said Treu.
The coach confirmed that SARU CEO, Jurie Roux, will do the handover of jerseys tomorrow evening at the Blitzbokke’s team hotel.
South Africa is currently third in the World Series with 76 points. They open their campaign with a Pool B match against Wales on Friday (14h08, SA time) and this will be followed by the remaining pool matches on Saturday against the USA and New Zealand. SuperSport will show all matches live from Hong Kong.
The Springbok Sevens squad for Hong Kong is:
Chris Dry, Boom Prinsloo, Frankie Horne, Pieter Engelbrecht, Kyle Brown (captain), Branco du Preez, Bernado Botha, Cornal Hendricks, Paul Delport, Cecil Afrika, William Small-Smith, Stephan Dippenaar.